To begin with, take in the Name of God clear Rhinish wine, or another nice and clear wine. It must have been separated from its mother, for there must be no turbidness in it whatsoever. For the philosophers say that our Stone must be drawn from one thing only, without the addition of anything foreign. Thus take good clear wine of pleasant smell and taste. From this separate its 4. elements as much as possible. For to perfectly separate the elements e.g. the air from the fire, this is impossible, the air being hot and moist. Thus one may not completely separate the moisture from the heat. And water is cold and moist, but one may not completely separate the coldness from the moisture. Likewise fire is hot and dry, but one may not completely separate the heat from the dryness. Thus it is impossible to immediately separate the elements from each other, but they must be mixed among themselves and stay mixed. For in each element there are two natures, one visible, the other invisible.
Exemplum. Water is cold and moist. The moisture is visible, but the coldness is hidden and invisible and is a soul without a body, hidden within the moisture. Air is hot and moist, the moisture being manifest and visible, but the heat being a spirit and hidden. Fire is hot and dry and clear, both being subtle and spiritual. The clarity and redness are visible, but the heat and the dryness are hidden. For when you see a light burn, you will certainly see its clarity and redness with your eyes externally. But the heat that the fire contains within itself you will not be able to see. But if you put a finger into the flame, then you will certainly feel or experience the invisible heat. Earth is cold and dry, its dry body being visible and comprehensible, but its coldness is invisible and is a spirit without a body.
Thus it is clear that it is impossible to separate the elements from each other, and that they will always remain mixed among themselves. But in our practice we shall yet attempt to separate them as much as possible. As we shall learn below, we may separate them and turn them from their imperfection, and make them pure, beautiful, hard and fixed, so that when they are united they may nevermore be separated, but will forever be a clarified body that will not be consumed by fire.
Aristotle says in a booklet that he made, that everything that is in the earth is of two natures, one hidden, the other visible. That which nature causes to appear externally has its contrary internally; that which externally is hot and dry, is internally moist and cold. Therefore let us see how we may invert all things and put its inside outside and vice versa, so that we may perform a perfect Work. And this must be done from one thing only, without the addition of anything foreign. Therefore, says Aristotle, when you have water from the air and air from the fire, and fire from the earth, and then have them perfectly separated from all uncleanliness, then you possess the right Art. And from this comes a Stone, which is not a stone, and not a nature from any stone, but an eternally perfect body everlasting. And this is the secret that God has left to the world.
II The Preparation of the Rectified Air
Thus take such good clear wine, of the best smell and taste. Put it in a large stone jug1 holding 16. or 20. quarts. Put on a helm and lute well. Put in B.M. and connect to a recipient and distil with a gentle fire. Every 6. beats, as slowly as the clock ticks, you should see a droplet hanging from the helm as if it were dew. Then remove the recipient and take the jug out of the B. Then take another good jug, the bigger the better, and put your air into it. Put the alembic onto the jug, lute very well, connect to a recipient and distil on a low fire in 6 beats, and thus keep distilling with this heat until you see the dew appearing in the helm. Then remove the recipient, close well, lute on another recipient, well fastened to the tube from the helm. Then distil until you find that a thin clear water comes over.
Then take this recipient, close it with wax and remove the helm from the jug. That which now remains in the jug pour into the first water, the water that you retained first. Then clean the jug, and dry it with a clean linen cloth, so that no moisture remains at all. Then pour that which was the last to come over back into the jug, put on the helm, well luted as before, until you again see the dew appearing in the helm.
Then stop and take the lid from the recipient, and pour it to the first that you have drawn off, and which has remained in the jug Again pour to the first water, clean your jug with a linen cloth. Pour all the air that you have collected into the jug again, put on the helm again and distil with the same heat as I taught you before, until you see the dew appearing in the helm. Then remove the recipient and try its taste. If it tastes watery, take the helm from the jug and pour its contents to the first water, dry the jug well, and pour that which you drew off last into the jug again, put on a helm and distil until you see dew appearing. Then remove the recipient and put on another one and distil until nearly everything has come over. Then take off the helm and pour the whole remainder to the first water.
Then take a nice glass and put all the air that you have into it. Put on a helm and distil from the B. with the same heat as taught before, and repeat the distillation so often until nothing remains below in the glass and above no dew hangs from the helm. And the remainder in the glass pot, put with the first water. And when everything that remains in the glass pot comes over clearly, with the same clarity it had when you poured it in, and you see no more dew coming in the helm, then you have rectified your air. Put the same into a glass vial. Close it tight and well with wax and keep it until you need it.
III. The Separation of the humors from the Fire and the Earth
Then take your jug wherein you have the water, put on a helm and place in B. and distil with a small fire in three beats. Distil thus until the matter is dry and you see that nothing will distil any more. Then strengthen the fire under the B.M. so that the water boils strongly, and keep it thus for 24 hours in case some fire should remain with the fire and earth, so that all of the same may be nicely drawn off. And when you see that nothing distils any more, no matter how strongly you let the B.M. boil, then stop and let it cool. Then remove the recipient and take a nice jug wherein you pour the water of all jugs wherein you have your water and earth. Then remove the jug from the B. and take off the helm and put it onto the jug wherein you have put all your water. Put it into the B. and distil on a low fire so that you can count to six between every drop that comes out of the tube of the alembic. Distil thus until it no longer drips. Then increase the fire under the B. until it boils. Continue for 4 or 5 hours until you sec that it drips no more. Then stop the distillation and let it cool.
Remove the recipient and alembic, and that which you find on the bottom of the jug you add to the other fire and earth that remained in the first distillation. Wash the jug quite clean and then pour all your water into it again, put on a helm, put it back into the B. and connect the receiver. Again distil with a small fire, as said before, and when it stops dripping, let it cool and remove the recipient containing all your water. Again remove the helm from the jug and what you find on its bottom, add again to the fire and earth. Clean the jug again, dry well with a linen cloth, and again pour all your water into it. Put on the helm and distil again as before.
Such distillations must be continued until nothing remains behind on the bottom of the jug, but everything goes over nicely, the same quantity you put in and the jug stays as clean as it was. Take it out, remove the recipient and pour all your water into a vial or a nice stone jug. Close it tight and well with wax and put it away until you need it. You now have your air and fire, each one by itself in separate vessels, rectified and prepared from all their humors. IV The Separation of the Fire from the Earth
Now let us further ensure that we separate the fire and the earth. First we then take the fire, which is all mixed with the earth, from the jug and put it all into a great earthen dish2 well luted, so that nothing remains behind. Then take a tilestone for covering houses, and let the same glow for one or two hours in a great fire, and thereafter let it cool, grind it to powder, sift through a small sieve and mix this powder with the fire and earth in the cupel. Use so much powder that the mixture becomes so dry that it starts to dust when you add more powder. Thus put the cupel onto a tripod and make a fire underneath so that the matter becomes hot. Otherwise it will not be possible to mix in very much powder. When this has been done, take an earthen casket3, put the matter into it and put on a helm. Lute so well that it can endure fire.
The casket however, should now be one third full, such that two thirds stay empty. Put the casket onto an oven with a cupel fall of ashes. Connect a receiver, lute well with clay, for the fire is a subtle spirit. Then make a fire in the oven, the first four hours quite weak, the next four hours a little stronger, the third four hours stronger still and during the last four hours the cupel with the matter should be aglow. Keep it thus until nothing will distil any more. When you see this, let it stand in the glow for another hour. You must let it glow modestly, for should it become white, this would not be good for the earth (while it is enclosed)
When you have had it thus in the glow for an hour, after it does not drip any more, let it cool and remove the recipient as well as the helm from the water. On the bottom you then find a black matter, as a coal, which is a precious stone and is the blood of the earth. Take it out and keep it safe until you need it.
In the recipient however, there is a thick black matter or soil vel terra, wherein the fire is. But it is unclean, and still contains some of the earth. Thus take a stone jug, wherein you put a part of the clarified water. Then distil three times as much water as there is fire. Put the fire and the water together into the jug and take a wooden spoon with a long handle wherewith the water and the fire are mixed well together for an hour or two without stopping, beating them together. Then lute on a helm with Luto sapientiæ, so that it can endure fire. Put in ashes and start with a small fire until the jug is good and hot. Then make the fire so hot up to the tube of the helm.
In three beats, keep it thus in the fire until nothing distils any more, or make the fire so strong for another hour, in case something still wants to come over. You will then have water and fire mixed together in your recipient. Then take off the helm and remove what you find on the bottom of the jug, and add it to your earth.
Take then a nice jug and put your water and fire into it. Distil in B. so that you can count to six between two drops. Then the water will come over, and the fire remains on the bottom. Take the jug from the B., put it into the ashes and distil. That which then remains on the bottom, add to the earth. Again take the water with the fire and pour it back into the jug. Stir with a spoon for an hour, so that it becomes well mixed. Then put on a helm and put it back into the ashes and distil until nothing comes over any more. Then distil it again in the B.
Repeat these distillations so often, until nothing remains at the bottom any more, but goes out as nice as it was when you poured it in. Add everything that remains behind each time to the first earth. However, when nothing remains behind any more, it is enough and your fire has been perfectly separated from its earth. It is then red and clear and more subtle than the air. Such fire pour into a glass vial and close it well with wax. Your fire has then been well rectified and separated from all its terrestriality and is clean. Thus you have air, fire and water, all three perfect to complete your work with.
V. The Purification of the Earth
Now let us further ensure that we bring the black earth to a crystalline stone and separate the black earth, therewith completing our work. Take all the black earth, grind it in a mortar and rub it through a small sieve. Thereafter take 5. or 6. small earthen pans that have a smooth bottom, and the rim an inch high. Into these pans you put your earth half a finger thick on the bottom, put them into a reverberatory oven, and calcine them until it is enough
(That is.) Hold them for twelve hours sweetly in a glow. Yet only let it glow and no further. Thereafter let them cool and take the pans with the earth out. Have ready a nice stone jug, or a glass, which is large, but the stone jug is better. Grind all your earth to powder and sift it through a small sieve, put it into the jug and take water from your recipient and pour it onto the earth. Stir it well with a wooden spoon that has a long handle.
Then put the jug into the Balneum, put a piece of an arc4 over the opening and make fire under the B. so that the water becomes so hot that you cannot put your hand into it. Stir it every once in a while with the spoon and let it remain in such a heat for 12. hours. Then let it cool and lower the fire day and night. Thereafter take another stone jug wherein you decant all the clear water from the fœcibus. Or draw it per philtrum through a piece of cloth, the way you know. Then again pour your rectified aqua onto the earthen fæces. Stir again with the spoon, put into the B. and proceed as before. Thereafter let it become clear again as before. Again you pour off the clear water per philtrum, and add to it the other water that you drew off first.
Thereafter take the jug with the aqua in which your earth is dissolved. Put on the helm, put into the B. and let the water distil over. Then the earth remains behind on the bottom as a grey salt. This take out, grind to a fine powder and put it into the pan again, as described above. Put it into the reverberatory oven, give it a small fire, so that it glows modestly as before, and leave it in the glow for two hours. Keep diligent attention to the earth, that it does not melt, or it will be completely spoilt.
Therefore one must glow gently, as iron that one wishes to quench. Otherwise the earth will melt and become quite spoilt so that it will not go over with the distillation afterwards. Therefore do not glow it too hot, so that it does not melt. Then let it cool and take it out of the pan, grind to a subtle powder and put it into the jug again. Pour the rectified water onto it, stir with the spoon, put into the fire and heat the B. Let it stand 12. hours and stir every once in a while with the spoon. Thereafter let it cool and stand to sink a day and a night.
Then pour off the clear water on top into another nice jug and filter. Again pour more rectified water onto the fæces. Stir and put into the B. as before. When this has been done then pour it to the foregoing and again put the helm onto the jug and put into the B. Distil the aqua from the earth with a small fire and your earth will stay on the bottom of the jug and should be pure white. Then take the earth from the jug, grind to powder or rub it on a stone to a subtle powder. Then put it into the pan again. But reverberate once again, first with a small fire so that it glows sweetly without tasting And do not let it stand longer in the glow than that you may speak 3. or 4. pater fosters.
Thereafter let it cool and take the pans out. Again rub the earth to a clean powder on a stone. Put into a jug again, and again pour your rectified water onto it. Stir, put into the B. again, and proceed further exactly as above and let no more fæces be left behind. Viz, let the powder coagulate, distil, decant and calcine. When the earth now is dissolved, it is clean, well rectified and white as snow. And you now have the four elements, each one rectified by itself. Therefore be glad, for you are now ready to complete your work.
VI The Importance of not using Foreign Earth
We now wish to see how the elements may be brought together again, to make an ever lasting perfect body. You shall know that in the earth lies the perfection of the stone and of art. For Hermes Philosophus says: “In the earth lies all perfection of all works, for without the earth no thing may be perfect, for the earth is vast and firmament of all perfection, and without the earth no thing may become fixed, nor may anything receive power but from the earth. And you shall know that the earth is very small but of great powers.”
One sees many grains originate from one small grain. Therefore take good care that you do not take any foreign thing but its own earth. For there are many who think they are making aquam vitæ and are making aquam mortis instead: This is because they take foreign earth and say that such is its own earth. Others say it is the wine from the press or cellar with the grapes and seeds, and claim it to be a perfect earth. Others take the vines, burn them to ashes and make it into a lye that they coagulate and claim to be terra vini. But they are all mistaken and while they think they are making aquas vitæ, it becomes aquæ mortis instead: But the physicists say that the perfect thing should be made from one thing only without the addition of anything foreign. However, if you take imperfect grapes from the cellar for the (urgent) need of man, and separate its elements as taught above, then the earth that you end up with is its own earth and not a foreign one.
Example. When the wine comes from the cellar, it is foul and turbid, throws up foam and its fæces and yeast are below on the bottom. It also deposits its winestone on the sides of the barrel, which also is nothing but faces. Thus the wine ejects all its fæces and evil humors on top and below on the bottom, as well as on all sides. And when it becomes clear and beautiful, and also has ejected all fæces, then it will also have a good smell and taste and be very sweet to drink and take in, and then it is one thing.
But as long as there are some fæces or turbidity in it, then it is not one thing For it still has something in it that has to separate from it before it becomes sweet and clear. For this reason it is plain that one should neither use winestone, grapes, wine from the cellar, yeast, nor ashes from vines. Particularly since these all contain evil humors, that the wine ejects before it becomes good to drink. And those who take resort to such works are all mistaken, thinking they are making aquas vitæ but actually making aquam mortis. For they take an imperfect thing that the wine naturally ejects from itself before it is agreeable to drink. It is as if a doctor took evil humors and matters that a man has expelled by means of medicines, and wished to cure another patient with the same evil and foul matters. Thus it is with those who have such opiniones about foreign earth.
Thus say all physicists: Our stone is made from one thing only, without the addition of any foreign thing. Thus it is plain and true from the aforementioned causes that one must take nice and clear wine, and from it make aquam vitæ in order to maintain man’s life so that he does not corrupt by any accidental causes before his appointed time, and to restore us to the first state of health.
Why have I said this? Because you must beware from taking foreign earth, and for the sake of the ignorant who may bring other phantasies into your heads, leading you astray, and that you may thus always remain on the right path without straying. Also, if you take foreign earth you cannot know how much you should take in proportion to the air. Therefore stay with the prescribed Regulis.
VII The Fire is not used in Medicinal Works
You must also know that in all medicinal things, the element fire should not be used. For it is too hot and would consume the natural moisture of the nature of man’s corporis, and destroy it. For the life of all men and animals depends on two things. That is on heat and moisture. And the more these two are tempered, the stronger and healthier the nature is.
Therefore do not take die element fire in any medicinal work. The air is hot and moist, the earth cold and dry, and with the coldness of the earth you shall temper the heat of the air and thus complete a Quintam essentiam or a clarified corpus and the Lapidem Philosophorum. When it is finished and the earth and air have become fixed by each other and it has become a crystal, you should consider well whether it becomes foul in the heat and whether it curdles when brought into the cold. And if it was kept for a hundred years in the fire, its essence and nature should not change; neither should it loose any of its weight. If you read this lesson several times, you will no doubt discover for yourself what complexion the stone should have and what one may accomplish with it.
VIII The Conjunction of the Air and the Earth
However, in order that we come back to our work and propositum, to collect and join together the elements, take in the Name of the Lord, all your rectified earth, put it into a glass vessel and pour some of its own rectified water over it, properly and just so much that it dissolves your earth and no more. And this shall be done in B., and when your earth has been dissolved into a clear water, take a small glass with an alembic on top and pour your dissolved earth into it. And you must know that you should not pour more water onto the earth than that the earth, becomes properly dissolved by it, and no more. When you now have put your earth into the glass, then pour your air onto it and shake well together with your hand. Then put onto a B., the top of the glass well closed, and leave it therein for 4. or 5. days. Then take it out and put on an oven in ashes. Lute the helm well onto it and connect to a recipient. First distil with a gentle fire, thereafter leisurely stronger. Thus continue until nothing distils any more. Then let it cool. Your earth should then remain lying at the bottom of the vessel. Take it out and grind it on a stone with a wine of your rectified water. Thus grind it small and subtle, so that one could use it for painting with a brush. Then put your ground earth into the glass again and pour the air onto it again. Stir well together and put into the B. again, well stoppered up 4. or 5. days. And once every day it should be stirred well, so that it mixes well. Then take it, put into ashes and distil over again per alembicum, as described above.
Such distillations repeat so often until all the earth distils over. And note that there exists another way to distil the earth which is not as good. When the earth now has gone over, it is as the physicist says: The below must be like the above, for otherwise no coniunction or joining together may take place, for the earth must have been made spiritual.
Therefore all sages say that when you have made the below as the above and the above as the below, then you have a well made solid work. And if the earth had been made volatile and the air fixed, and the earth did not go over with the air, then they could nevermore be joined together or fixed. For when they distil over together, then they take hold of each other in their foundations and such a union takes place that they may never be separated. And it should remain an eternal conjunction, just as it will be with our body and soul after judgement day. For it should not be a mixture of elements, but a simple essence, one essential thing, which is contained in it, just as heaven does, for it holds the 4 elements within itself. But there is no mixture therein, for it is simple and unified, and accordingly contains the four elements.
Even more so is it with our work. For the earth has now gone out and distilled over with the air. And thus they are united so that they may now never again be separated. And although nothing has become fixed yet, there is no disagreement in it, in the elements, for they are equally divided. Examining the air that was hot and moist, and the earth that was cold and dry, we see that as far as the air had too much moisture, so much moisture was lacking in the earth. And thus its dryness is tempered with the moisture of the air. And the amount of heat that the air has too much, the same amount of coldness was present in the earth. So with the heat of the air, the earth is tempered. The air is very light, spiritual and volatile, the earth is very heavy, corporeal and fixed. Now notice the kind of agreement we have here between the air and the earth.
The two contraries that are now united with each other, and have thus taken hold of each other in their foundations so that they together have flown out of the cucurbit into the heaven of the alembic, have now become one thing. Therefore inquire of your own intelligence what kind of thing this could be, whether it does not contain the 4. elements, whether they are not equally divided as said before, and whether they are not beautiful, clear and pure from the separation and rectification as taught before. And see whether they are now not rightly conjoined. For they have gone up with each other through the helm Think of this lesson and take it well up into your memory, for here concealed secrets and hidden things have been revealed to you, which the ancients have always kept secret.
Therefore, thank and praise the Almighty God for his wonderwork and holy gift, that he has given to his dear philosophers. For in this work all other secrets are contained. Can you rightly understand and comprehend in any other way how the door of all secrets has here been opened to you? Therefore, do not shrink from studying herein, so that you may enter through this door into the domum Philosophorum, so that you may behold this wonderful thing. But enough of this.
IX. The Fixation of the Elements.
Now let us see how these elements that now have been distilled through the helm, may be fixed and made eternal and brought to their highest virtue: Take then in the Name of the Holy Trinity what you have in your recipient and pour it into the fixation glass and close it with sigillo hermetis and put it into cineres or ashes, not deeper than the matter itself. The first eight days, give it a small fire. The second eight days increased, so that the matter begins to grow coarse and slowly ascends. This you will see and notice thus: The matter starts to ascend from the bottom of the vessel unto the head and descends again. You will then see many small veins draw themselves from the head of the glass, going down to the bottom. And there should be quite many of these small veins, uncountable because of their subtlety.
Soon however, the little streams should begin to grow a little thicker, because of the same ascending and descending. When they now begin to grow thick, there will seem to be fewer than before when they were quite subtle. You should then increase your fire a little, for your matter wants to become fixed. For the thicker and more coarse the rivulets become, the fewer of them there are and the matter becomes more fixed and can better withstand the fire. And following this sign you must increase your fire until you see that no more veins are running up and down in the glass. Then you should keep the matter another 8. days in such a heat. Then you will see another sign whereof the philosophers have written so marvellously, and it is a sign of perfection.
For Aristotle says in his secretis Secretorum, chapter 15: Our water is not water or any form of water, but is our instrument, hammer, axe, file or plane, wherewith we must work just as a blacksmith must forge the iron with the hammer; how else would he form it according to his will? And when the iron has been beat with the hammer after the masters will, he hangs it on the wall. Or take a carpenter who works with the axe: When the work has been finished, the axe does not remain with the work, but he hangs it back onto the wall.
Even more so it is with our work; for the water of the clouds, this is the hammer or axe wherewith we make our work and wherewith we must complete it. For with the water of the clouds we must release or dissolve all our work. And with it we must also draw out and separate the elements. And when we have separated them, we must wash them with the water of the clouds (as a woman washes her linen), and when it has been washed clean, she hangs it in the sun, for then she has no more need of washing. And look at the cloth dyers: when they wish to dye a piece of cloth or garment, then it is not possible to bring the colour into the cloth without the water of the clouds. They must prepare the dye with the water, and cook the dye without the cloth with fire. And when the cloth has been dyed, they hang it to dry so that the water dries out and the colour remains fixed in the cloth.
And thus it also is with our work, for with the water we have completed our work, fixed our stone, and now no longer have any need for the water in our work. For consider how you purge the air and the earth. First you dissolve the earth in rectified fire that you first had drawn from your work per distilationem. And you grind your earth 2 or 3 times on the stone with your water. And all this same water has remained with your work which is thus completed, God be praised, and this water does not belong to the Lapide Philosophorum For it is water of the clouds and is our vessel and beaker, and we are no longer lost, for the stone is completed. And when it is fix you will see this sign: where you formerly saw the little veins ascend and descend from the bottom of the vessel unto above in the head, there you shall now see drops in the head and round about in the glass, and they fall down onto the fixam Materiam again, just as the dew drops from the leaves onto the earth. Thus it happens here, and when you see this sign, rejoice, for the Stone of Life has been made and thus the Q.E. supplied the way it may be prepared by human hands. And it is the highest of all medicines that God has left in nature, for it has the power to expel all afflictions and to purge man so that he lives without diminution unto his last terminus. And what further powers it has I shall be silent about. For those who understand the work will surely know what miracles it can perform, which I commend to those who can grasp it.
When you now see the last signs, let your fire go out and let the glass cool. When it is cold you will find a hard stone on the bottom of the water, and the water stands above the stone. And know that if the water were not present, and the stone began to come fixed, then it would go right through the glass as an oil through a dry leather. Therefore first let the glass cool well before you remove the water. For the water ensures that the stone does not penetrate. For as long as the glass is clean the stone is molten, for it dissolves itself in the hot dryness, and in the cold moist air it coagulates. Therefore let it cool well.
When the water has been removed, break the glass and take the King of Eternity out, who will always keep his Crown and potency, and thank the Almighty God for his Holy Gift, etc.
Now is completed that which was promised before. Our stone shall be made, say the physicists, from one thing without the addition of anything foreign. And it shall contain the 4 elements, which is taught and proved sufficiently by understanding and speech. Therefore Hermes says: You shall not open your purse and have much expenditure. And Arnoldus de Villa noua says in Nouo Testamento: The Lord God has given us two stones, one to the white and another to the red, which we may have for nothing, because they grow, and one may have as much of it as one wants and there is no need to ask anyone for permission. And he who knows this stone and is able to prepare it as described above, he will no longer have much expenditure with the art.
Therefore keep well in your memories what I have showed you here. I have opened the door for you. Therefore enter joyously into the house of philosophy. And start to work with your small intelligence, then you will see and understand wonderful things. And upon reading this lesson many times before you begin to work, then no shortcomings will occur in your work, for I have said and written everything clearly for you, without any hidden words and have opened the way for you, which I have walked with great care and work, and I have made your care and work easy for you. I have warned you against all shortcomings and mistakes that you may encounter in the work, without any dark words or mixed with false ones, so that you without loss of time will come to clear understanding. And if you have a different understanding, then you may understand much more from this work than have described to you. For what one must do in the art must all exit onto a single way and path. Otherwise one brings great expenses upon oneself. Error and phantasy thereupon turn into disgrace and scorn before your fellow man.